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‘Help’ text for Italian Concerto

Bach before he saw the text

Bach before he saw the text

Bach after he saw the text

Bach after he saw the text

The middle part, the Andante, from Bachs Italian Concerto is quite hard to remember for most people so I put a text on it, maybe it will help. I do hope that in near future a singer will perform it with me as well! It was a great job, looking for the right syllables on the right notes.
Hopefully this text will help more level 5 Suzuki trainees! It’s half serious, half funny.

Youtube recording Andante

The text is:

What did I do wrong
I really don’t know
what I did
to make you feel so bad
that you don’t want to see me any more.
That hurts me, that hurts me,
and I don’t have a clue,
I love you, I love you,
that’s all I know. I do.
Why did you just ban me,
what did I do wrong?
Was is that I didn’t like your dog?
But I didn’t mean to hurt you, to hurt you.
I didn’t want you to feel this pain
because I love you, I do.
But can you please take another dog?

Why do you like her more than me?
I just don’t see
I don’t agree that she’s more lovable than me,
that she’s more lovable than me.
Should I learn to growl like she does?
Would you then love me more or do you
understand her, do you understand her,
do you love her more than me,
do you, do you love her more,
more, than me?
Ah. That hurts that hurts
that you love her more than me.
But I don’t agree:
only cats are more lovable than me!

Page 1

Page 1

Page 2

Page 2

Page 3

Page 3

Page 4

Page 4

Andante from Italian Concerto

Support for Children of Mexico

Before summer holiday up to now, my students and me worked together on several compositions for a book. The book is meant to be published at least before Christmas. The proceeds from the book (with deduction of the costs) will all go to the wonderful foundation ‘Children of Mexico’. Henning Zorn, chairman of Children of Mexico, is alos the father of two of my students (Alán and Nora Zorn). I know their project is 100 percent safe and all proceeds will be truely spent on the projects.

The compositions in the book will be ascending in difficulty, because the youngest participant is 4 years old and one of the oldest about 74. They can be played and practised by children and adults. The pieces have an average level, the easiest can be played after only one year of lessons. Some pieces have a secondo part (composed by Heleen) so that they can be played together, as a duet.

Mexican embroidery

Mexican embroidery

Read more about ‘What Children of Mexico do’ or click the video link below:

What Children of Mexico do
Video Youtube Children of Mexico

I will soon publish more about the costs and what will be the date of publication. Of course there will be a book presentation where you can buy the book. The book will contribute to much musical pleasure, ánd a better life for Mexican children.

Italian Concerto (2)

You can travel to a beautiful place and decide to stay there for a week. Or leave next day to another beautiful place, and leave again etc.
Why? Because you are excited to see something new. Although you hardly saw the first place, you want to discover new things. Because you are eager and excited to go on. Nothing wrong with that! But that’s why you didn’t see the well with fresh water at the first place. And you didn’t see the pineapple wood, and the lake that was waiting for you to swim.
This little story is how it feels to stay at the first page of the Italian Concerto. I discovered new things, like diving in a deep lake without knowing how deep it is. You can swim further and further, wanting to reach the bottom. Then you really have to get back to breath, because it is endless.

Little lake in France (Prats du Périgord)

Our swimming lake in France (Prats-du-Périgord)

I keep myself awake by doing little ‘games’ like: I am going to observe mainly the 5th finger of the right hand. From bar 5 to 12 of the third movement (Presto) I suddenly noticed that the little finger is very busy, and has an important role: it plays the downward scale of B flat. Did I ever notice? In a way: yes. But only with my brain. Now I ‘feel’ it like I ‘am’ my little finger. Also it is the first time I consciously noticed this E flat in bar 6. It doesn’t belong in the scale of F. Of course: it belongs in the scale of B flat, the fourth tone in F. But in a way it is ‘shocking’ because you would expect an E. So why is it there? Maybe it is a prediction for the E flat in the second theme that starts in bar 25. Like a short announcement that this is going to happen.
I also noticed bar 10 en 11: in two bars the E flat changes again in bar 11 in a normal E.
While slowing down, with just one page, I see more. It’a bit like the difference between cycling or driving a car. When you cycle, you see more of the surroundings. And when you walk, even more.

Of course this study session was not only rose scent and moonshine. I also met:

1. Impatience. I really had to hold myself back to play further on the second page. I told myself I couldn’t enter that room, because the floor was still wet
2. Distraction. Thinking about what to do after the practise.
3. Sleepiness. This only occurs when my mind is drifting off. What helps, is having a clear focus. Like: observe the fingering, or listen only to the left hand
3. Longing for coffee (I just went to grab one, towards the end!)

and several thoughts about other things. But everytime I went back to where I came from, with my full attention.

About learning the Italian Concerto (1)

Before summer I made a plan to learn the Italian Concerto in France by heart. I wanted to practise every day for an hour. It didn’t work. Why not?

Handwriting Bach

Handwriting Bach

1. I felt not like practising, but playing through
2. Because I could already play it (not yet at the right speed, but anyway ..) it just didn’t feel like a challenge
3. I wanted to play other pieces I felt more like playing
4. It is so long! (17 pages)
5. I felt resistance doing it

I even wrote a poem about it (sorry, in Dutch!)

Italiaanse Concert

Dit was de zomer van het
Italiaanse Concert:
ik zou elke dag oefenen
maar dit idee was snert!

Het is zo’n lap
er komt geen eind
aan, ‘t is een stuk
waar je in verdwijnt

en nooit meer uitkomt,
’t zwarte gat
dat geeft wel aan
dat ik’t heb gehad.

Dus zet ik maar eerst
een kopje thee
dan toch de timer op 30
en hupsakee.

Zo. Al dat gemopper
Sneed geen hout!
Al 30 minuten om:
de thee is koud.

From: ‘Menu du Jour’ poems Heleen Verleur Book ‘Menu du Jour’

After about two weeks I gave up. Also, in my mind I almost gave up doing Suzuki level 5 (the Italian Concerto by heart is one of the mandatory pieces). Because: what’s the point practising a piece you don’t want to practise?
But: I felt a vague regret about this. Maybe take a lesson with a good teacher? Could this increase my motivation?

But then, suddenly I got an idea. The point is, I don’t want to spend all my time to it. Because I want to compose and I also want to practise other pieces, and write poems, and a lot of other things to give way to my creativity. Practising the Italian Concerto felt too much
like a duty. What if I restrict myself to just ONE page a week?
So this week I started with the first page of the 3rd movement.

Italian Concerto 3rd part 1st page

Italian Concerto 3rd part 1st page

I’m going to write a blog about how this works, because I know more people are struggling with the Italian Concerto. Maybe my method can inspire people to do the same. Or use the same approach with other ‘stumbling block’ pieces. I’m just in the beginning of my selfinvented method, but I already can say this about it:

1. I can already play the first page by heart after one day. But it feels SO good not to go on! It feels so relaxed that I don’t have to do more.
2. Because I only have one page, I start to experiment more with: different tempi, hands seperate etc. Because if you stick to one piece, you are going to play “with” it, instead of enjoying the music while playing through.
3. I imagine myself being on stage. Where are the spots I feel 99 percent secure instead of 100? Even at the slightest hesitation, I put my hands apart again to investigate what didn’t work .. not the right fingering, hand position .. try to understand.
4. I really stop exactly at the first note of the second page, although this becomes harder to do as I know it quite well already. So I feel an exciting urge to go on, not because I ‘have to’.
5. It feels more like meditation than like practising
6. I don’t have this haunting feeling: how about the rest?
7. The funny thing I notice, is that the thought that I am not allowed to go further than one page, gives me energy and joy to focus on the first page. It doesn’t bother me to do it again and again, everytime in a different way.

I will keep you informed about the progress! If it works, and I do another page every week, then I will be finished before Christmas! Even when I keep up doing all the other things in life that I want to do. :-)

Birthday George Sand 1 July 1804

Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, best known by her pseudonym George Sand, was a remarkable woman – a prodigious novelist, dramatist and campaigner for all manner of political reform. She had a releationship with Frédéric Chopin for almost 10 years. And today is her birthday.
This photograph of her could also have been taken in the 60′s of the 20th century. Looking forward to ‘crawl into her skin’ again in the next performance of ‘Chopin and George Sand’, after summer in Gent.

Aurore as a young girl

Aurore as a young girl

Italian Concerto challenge

Handwriting Bach

Handwriting Bach

I challenge myself to learn the Italian Concerto from Bach by heart during the holiday in France. There is a Roland Stage Piano, and I want to spend one hour a day on it. That means 21 hours, because we are three weeks in France. What do you think: will this work?
If not, I am going to continue to practise an hour every day after holiday until I reached my goal. If I have taken this bump, it will become psychologically easier to reach Suzuki level 5. Then “only” the rest of book 7 will wait for me.

András Schiff plays Italian Concerto on Youtube

First print second part Italian Concerto, 1935

First print second part Italian Concerto, 1935

Ornaments Bach

Ornaments Bach

Partita for keyboard

Partita for keyboard

Violin Sonato (section)

Violin Sonato (section)

Elephant & Owl chick

Elephant

Elephant

Owl chick

Owl chick

Today I finished my composition ‘Elephant & Owl chick.’ It is a fun piece for three pianists at one piano, or fifteen pianists at five pianos (and everything in between!). It was commissioned by the Piano Festival of Groningen, or ‘het Groninger Pianofestival’ that will take place on Friday and Saturday of April 19/20 2019.
It is easy and can be played after about one or two years of piano lessons, although you must be able to do glissandi, tremolos and scales. Especially the owl chick is pure slapstick!
The elephant starts with a tangolike motive that is repeated over and over, but every time with different accompaniments. It has to be practised (and performed) with a group of fifteen children in one day!

You can hear a digital version below:


Digital version ‘Elephant and Owl chick’

As an example I put two pages below:

Elephant

‘Elephant’

Page 'Elephant & Owl chick'

Page ‘Owl chick’